305. Harry Nilsson’s ‘Aerial Ballet’

I’ve heard Harry Nilsson songs before. How could you have not? The guy had jams upon jams in the late-’60s, early ’70s. But here’s the thing: I didn’t know they were by one guy named Harry Nilsson. I didn’t know the same guy made “Coconut,” “Everybody’s Talkin’,” “One,” “Without You” and “Jump Into The Fire.” I had no idea who he was really, except that I knew that there was a documentary about him on Netflix that was perennially in my recommended list. 

So the day after I moved into my new place and spent a bunch of time sitting completely alone for the first time ever, really—I now live alone for the first time—and I saw this unbelievably great article Sean Fennessey wrote for Grantland about a new Nilsson box set, that was basically the most convincing essay about why an artist should be more revered I’ve ever read. Take a break and go over here and read it. It’s fucking unreal. I can only hope to be half as good as this. 

So, I read that article, and then I watch the documentary, Who Is Harry Nilsson, and it convinces me that I need to find every record I could possibly find by the guy. So that Saturday I went to the record store and got Pussy Cats, and fell into a deep Nilsson pit that I am only now climbing out of. 

There’s something about the guy’s voice, the way that all his songs seem to be about a central loneliness and lack of self confidence inside of himself, the fact that he’s lowkey maybe the best American songwriter from like 1968-1975 that crushed me this last month. The fact that I had a rough month compounded things—I had some bullshit health stuff come up (my doctor thought I might have cancer for about 8 days)—and I’ve been entangled in a romantic situation that can only be described as “relentlessly complicated.” It’s been a rough month, and listening to Nilsson has been the only constant. I must have listened to Nilsson Schmilsson 40 times in the last two weeks. “You’re Breaking My Heart” off Son of Schmilsson probably 75 times.

Which is to say I broke a personal rule and bought albums off eBay for the first time, and bought a bunch of Nilsson records, and the next 6 entries of this blog are going to be devoted to him. I am hoping to get something special for one of the entries, but that’s to come. 

Start listening to Nilsson if you don’t already, is what I am saying. 

  1. vinylinalphabetical posted this